AirAsia’s parent company Capital A is set to launch flying taxis in Southeast Asia, with the first flights happening in 2025, in a move that it hopes will transform how people travel in the region.
The company recently signed a lease with Dublin-based firm Avolon for at least 100 electric vertical takeoff aircraft, following an announcement in February.
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said the service would be bookable through AirAsia’s mobile app and offered at an accessible price point, just as the budget carrier had done for its regular flights.
“We don’t want this to be an exclusive product. We want everyone to be able to use this product,” Fernandes told reporters, as quoted by Reuters.
According to a report by Nikkei Asia, the flying taxi service is expected to start with a link between Kuala Lumpur’s city center and the international airport, reducing the hour-long trip by car to just 17 minutes.
Four persons might expect to pay less than $50 per person for an air taxi flight, making it a more cost-effective alternative for tourists.
Fernandes added that the company had been working with regulators in Malaysia and Singapore. However, he anticipates more difficulty in winning over Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The flying taxis, which are called VX4s, are made by UK company Vertical Aerospace, which has sold over 1,350 eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) globally to date. In February, Avolon purchased 500 VX4s from Vertical Aerospace, with AirAsia taking up 90% of the order.
According to Reuters, the VX4s have a range of up to 100 miles (160 km). This may well alter travel in Southeast Asia, making it easier and faster to get about. The development is also aligned with AirAsia’s goal to become a “digital airline” that relies on new technologies to provide a better experience for passengers.
Other flying taxi developers include Boeing, Airbus, Archer Aviation, and Hyundai. These firms have poured millions into the sector in recent years as they seek to capitalize on what is touted as the future of air travel. In December 2020, Joby acquired Uber Elevate, the ride-sharing company’s attempt to create eVTOLs.